Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Ships of Rebel Raiders - The Ironclads

Part IV– The Union Ironclads :   USS Passaic – The Giant Monitor

First in a class that would bear her name, USS Passaic (USN Card 28) was one of the few Navy ships – and perhaps the only ironclad – which President Abraham Lincoln himself visited.  A week later she and the USS Monitor (USN Card 19) were caught in a storm off Cape Hatteras.  She survived only by bailing, pumping and throwing overboard all of her shot;  USS Monitor was less fortunate, foundering and going to her grave beneath the stormy waves.

With her mighty guns (an 11-inch and a 15-inch Dahlgren) the USS Passaic was a powerful addition to Samuel Francis DuPont’s (USN Card 54) South Atlantic Blockading Squadron of Charleston.  In addition to capturing a blockade runner, the outgoing cotton-laden Glide,  (a rarity for the lumber ironclads) she took part in DuPont’s abortive April 1863 assault on Charleston Harbor.  After repairs she rejoined the squadron and was chosen by its new commander, John Dahlgren (USN Card 31) as his flagship.  He directed the attack on Fort Moultrie from her pilot house.  When her sister ship USS Lehigh (USN Card 22) was driven aground (see my blog post from yesterday) the USS Passaic offered covering fire and help pull her to safety.

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